Monday, November 23, 2009

the literal landscape...

It's interesting how one week can change a landscape.

Figuratively, metaphorically or literally.

Every Saturday morning, like clockwork, I take my dogs down to the beach for a nice long run. You aren't really supposed to have animals at the beach, but in the fall there are few people there, so I bend the rules a little. Or mold them, if you will, to fit my needs. I highly doubt that a park ranger will come after me. They have other issues to deal with, I'm sure.

I park my car at the far end of the upper lot.

Edgewater Park is a very large park just 3 miles from my home. Just a stones throw from downtown Cleveland. It's a sprawling two level park boxed in by a Yacht Club, limestone cliffs and the Shoreway or Route 2. The Edgewater Yacht Club is located at the far end of the park on the lower level. It's considered one of the premier yacht clubs on the Westside for sailing. It's protected from foul weather by the break wall and you don't have to wait for bridges to rise to get out to Lake Erie.

The lower level has a large open area that has become home to many kite flying enthusiasts. The large horseshoe shaped beach is a popular destination in the summer months. In the winter, there are few people that venture onto the beach area. The north wind can quickly pick up the fine sand and literally sand blast your face if you aren't careful.

The upper level is wooded with a sharp cliffs to the lake below. Picnic tables line the edge for a wonderful view of the downtown skyline and the water crib standing majestically 5 miles out. Large ships can regularly be seen on the horizon and small watercraft bob with the waves while fishing for Perch. The right side of the upper level has a gentler slope with bike and walking path that leads down to the beach and lower level. In the winter months my daughter and I will sled there. Many times we've gathered enough speed that has taken us from the ledge almost down to the waters edge. It's a long walk back up, but well worth the effort.

In the middle is a hidden, beat up, wooden staircase. This trek leads you down to the beach on the far left end of the park. That's our favorite spot to walk. Driftwood washes up and makes the access limited. We like to forge our way to the point where the water meets the cliff. Canadian Geese gather in this slightly protected cove resting for the next leg of their journey. Sienna, my hunter and Labradoodle, tries desperately to catch them. But they are just a little too quick for her. Or they float just beyond her reach in the water, almost as if they are toying with her and testing out her swimming abilities.

On this Saturday morning, as I tight walked over the larger driftwood logs across a small pool of water left with the receding tide, I realized that the landscape had drastically changed in one weeks time.

I pulled out my phone to peruse the photos I had taken the previous week. To check to make sure that it wasn't just my imagination. As I sat on an old picnic table half buried in the sand, long ago tossed over the cliffs edge to land on the beach. I looked at the photos. Yes. Indeed. This week the shell encrusted beach had more stones and bricks that weren't there the week before.

In one week.

Over a ton of wave beaten old bricks and stones, parts of chimneys still intact with mortar, had washed up on our section of beach. How? And from where did it come?

I checked the grassy hillside above and there was no sign of trauma on the landscape. No sign that it was dumped down from above. Plus the age of the bricks and the wear on the finish belied the fact that these had been in the water for some time.

As I sat and contemplated the changes in the photos and watched the dogs romp, I realized how different things can be in one weeks time. Why should my beach be any different?

Last week it was sunny. And warm. The last of the barefoot beach walks for the year. Two weeks ago it was rainy and cool, borderline rain gear weather. This week there was a gray mist so you could hardly discern the sky from the lake from the beach.

Not only had the landscape of the beach changed literally from week to week, but my own life had changed. My personal life seems to have mirrored the weather.

I thought about how our own personal landscapes changes figuratively. Without our knowledge.

Sometimes I wonder how much control we actually have on the changes at hand. How many events seem to change us...not the other way around. That maybe I don't really have that much power to manipulate my own life. Just the ability to deal with what is served.

Perhaps it was just the day, or the color of the sky, or the sense of smallness one feels when sitting at the edge of a large body of water. Sitting there in the mist realizing how small I really am in the grand scheme of things.
And yet, in the mist, the gray haze, my inner optimist continues to remain alive and unfazed. It has this perception and tenacity that serves me well. That inner voice is always strong and clear. It says, "Look how beautiful things are...", no matter what week it is.

You see, it's really all in the perspective.
And view.

I'm so glad mine remains relatively in focus.



  1. i have this sense whenever i am on a new zealand beach - that exposed, powerful, raw energy is humbling.

    hope you are ok - this post is more reflective than usual.

    its quite lovely :)

  2. What a great post! Funny how a few bricks can cause you to step back and take stock of not only the changing things around but also all the personal changes that we are usually too busy to stop and ponder.

  3. Nice post Nancy! I know it's not the point but I wonder where those bricks came from? I like the way you ponder things and are so good at getting your thoughts into words. What a nice place for you and the pooches to sneak away to on Saturdays.

  4. I went to school in Erie and often went out to Presque Isle. Your story brought back wonderful memories of a beautiful place. I remember the ice domes the waves would make in the winter time. Even though I live in Florida and I see the Gulf of Mexico every day, I still keep the beaches of lakes in a special place in my heart.

  5. Oh, Nancy, I SO agree with this post... you've just reached into my brain and put my thoughts into words - you have.

  6. It looks lovely here, no matter how altered from one week to the next.

    On a separate note, it is a pleasure to find your update just after you'd posted it for a change. I am normally in danger of getting RSI from scrolling through the 00s of comments which I normally have to wade through! The price of your popularity, I guess... :)

  7. Lovely - I go to Hadrian's Wall in Northumberland to get my peace. I enjoy your writing very much.

  8. Oh, I love your dogs! They are so precious! Lovely post.

  9. There's is no place like the beach to contemplate. I always feel so refreshed after letting the waves pull away all of the stress.

  10. Lovely post. Sometimes, things change quickly, and there's no knowing why. Onward!

  11. I have a piece of writing on my wall that I think every person should have either memorised in their heart or on their wall by Max Ehrmann. You've probably heard of 'Desiderata', most people have, and I think that this is a Desiderata post :)

  12. I guess you've just shown how important it is to protect our wild spaces and waterfronts from development. It's a matter of mental health.

    Hope all is well...and if not, that this bend in your road leads to something good.

  13. Hey Nancy, I must confess that I always find a beach in bad weather to be a bit of a downer. I'd be straight off in search of coffee and a green park. But damn, what a cool pooch! Amazing houndage going on there! I miss having a dog about the place, they're fabulous friends. Bye for now, Indigo

  14. We control nothing outside of ourselves. We control what we do in response, but we can't control whether our choices will succeed. I spent a lot of years HATING that! Love the shoreline...a wonderful place to sort things out.

  15. Funny how the ocean compels us to navigate to ponder mode. The sound of the ocean, smell of the air, the sand under bare feet. All of that apparently got your brain in drive. As a fellow beach lover, I really enjoyed this post.

  16. Edgewater Park is so beautiful and you're so fortunate to be able to go there all the time. And I totally agree with you that it's all in the perspective!

  17. I dance on that fine line often crossing over from one side to the other. Sometimes I do feel that I can manipulate my own fate, and other times it seems that just rolling in and out with the tide is the easiest way. Think about the people in your life, your family, your friends, your followers here in the blog world. What you say and what you do may not seem to be significant, but the ripple effect can be enormous. Don't underestimate the power of you being my friend. You're kind of a big deal in the eyes of many.

  18. the power of your being is what I meant to say.

  19. Hmmmmm, wonder where all those bricks came from?? Living by the ocean, I'm always intrigued with what washes up on what beach at what time of day or year.
    I love how it made you get all metaphorical. Great thoughtful post.

  20. Wonderful post!! Sure gives me something to think about!!

  21. It's true, you can only choose your attitude towards those changes....

    I love reading your blog....great photos, too!


  22. Yeah, this is really so thought-provoking and so important. You did a great job of focusing on something that is representative of a much bigger question. I'm so glad you wrote this...

  23. At least it wasn't the skeletal remains of some French explorer from yesteryear. They're down there, you know. They're down there.

  24. If I had found those bricks, I would be loading them up in the truck. I'm sure I could come up with something to make out of them.

    Great pondering post! Cute doggies!

  25. I sometimes think my own life is like a stream making its way through the landscape that determines which way the course will flow. So much of our lives are the reaction to the places and events that happen to us. Our responses come from someplace deep within and I wonder how much I control.

    I too am really curious about the bricks and debris on the beach. I love to think about the treasures the water abandons on the shore.

    Thanks for a perfect November blog.

  26. You know, it was there all along. You just hadn't noticed it!

    You have ALL of the power to control things around you. It's just that all of YOUR big things are very small in the overall grand scheme.

    Well done.

  27. these things must be in the air. change. adapting. shifts in perspective and sea changes in life. you put it all beautifully.

  28. Great post! Having just arrived back from vacation, I can attest to the changes that have taken place in just one week - in both work and personal landscapes.

  29. I was writing a comment to your "time" entry the other day, but could never finished it for some reason. As this is such a perfect continuance of that entry here goes again:

    Although time is a constant, it's properties never change, the clock always goes just as fast as it always did (unless the batteries run out). Our perception of time is every changing though. We think time goes to fast one day and too slow the next, we try to give time, get time, make time, manage time, but the truth of it is that time is a constant, it keeps ticking no matter what we do...

    Change is the unpredictable one, sometimes it's not even noticeable like the sun slowly burning itself out.

    Other times it's impossible not to notice like your beach, a fire, a hurricane or the death of a person.

    Change is something we can influence to a certain extent, we can slow it's progress to a stop in some cases and speed it up to instantaneously in others. We can alter the direction of changes or change the outcome completely.

    The only thing we cannot change is time, whether you embrace it or try to ignore it, a second becomes a minute becomes an hour becomes a day becomes a year becomes an eon... tick tock enjoy it while you can

  30. I haven't been to Lake Erie since I was a child and honestly don't remember it all that much but it reminds me of Superior which I try to get to as often as possible, it's a three hour drive so it's been a few years. I always marvel at the beauty of the lake and how it changes from week to week but still remains the same. Lovely post.

  31. Gorgeous post, Nancy!

    Beautfully written and eloquently expressed.

    I agree with your thinking...

    ...Sometimes I wonder how much control we actually have on the changes at hand. How many events seem to change us...not the other way around. That maybe I don't really have that much power to manipulate my own life. Just the ability to deal with what is served.


    This is why I truly believe that life gives us what we need, and our only control is how we perceive it. And what we do with it.

    Life makes us. We don't make life.


  32. I suspect we have very little control over the changes that come to us - we can control how we deal with them - and we can partially control the changes we sent outwards -

    Thanks for the food for thought. Your post "fills" me up as usual. :)

  33. Your optimistic attitude probably helps you see the silver lining in most situations. I wish I had a little more of that in me. Have a peaceful Thanksgiving.

  34. I love it there. When my brother lived in Lakewood, he ran there every day. Ish.

    I'm in Erie right now, and there seems to be an awful lot of bricks missing. They are blaming it on the fact that the city hasn't had any maintenence for 200 years, but I'm kinda suspecting that Edgewater may have stolen them.

    Happy Thanksgiving Lady!!
    Love to you from just an hour and a half away. If I were staying longer, I'd be knocking on your door Friday afternoon to beg a sandwich made of leftovers and an hour or two of your company!

  35. I always enjoy your posts, no exception here...a lovely analogy (and darn it, I know it's not the point, but now *I* want to know what all those bricks are, too!)

  36. There is a dramatic difference in the two photos. And although it's human nature to worry about things in our life, can it be something we can change? NO? Then why worry about it? At least that's my husband's philosophy and he's pretty healthy! I guess we just have to take life one day at a time and do the best we can with it.

  37. I know the feeling. Several weeks ago, Julia and I went out to the Pacific coast. Standing at the water's edge is indeed humbling.

    Oh well. Just because we're small doesn't mean we can't do big things. ;)

  38. Beautiful post, always.

    You give me goosebumps with your writing, girl!

    I can picture it...all of it.

  39. Thank you for all the great posts from last year! I look forward to reading your blog, because they are always full of information that I can put to use. Thank you again, and God bless you


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